NY Times get's really, REALLY Anti-Semitic & lies about it, How 68 Reddit Message Board Members Duped Major Media Outlets Covering Fake News, Tiger King 2 coming to Netflix (The Five for 09/24/21)

Hey, welcome to The Five.

It’s Friday, which means this issue covers Culture & Commentary.

Be sure to subscribe and check back on Tuesday for news coverage.

If just subscribed after hearing my interview on The Vance Crowe podcast, welcome!

(By the way, I highly recommend you go check out that episode and subscribe to Vance’s podcast…you may recognize the name because he’s been featured as a source in The Five).

Let’s get into it.

[one]

Hang with me on this first story, as it’s strange, hilarious and disturbing (at how easily the media is duped) all in one go, and also a lot to process in order to understand…just what the heck happened.

Recently, Texas put additional restrictions on abortion in place, which allows private citizens to sue any person or company who helps provide an abortion after the legal cutoff.

Soon, major media outlets were running headlines like the alarming CBS news headline “Texas abortion law turns citizens into bounty hunters.”

The mainstream media gobbled up the story of how Evangelical Christians were turning out in droves to become “bounty hunters” for anyone who got an abortion past six weeks in Texas.

The only problem? The whole thing was a joke.

Trace Underwood published a piece on Medium detailing how 68 people on a message board titled “Drama” (for people who love causing drama) fooled some of the biggest news outlets in the nation.

Recently, you may have heard reddit banned a forum for “Texas Abortion Bounty Hunters”. The ban was reported triumphantly in Vice and Business Insider after health advocate Kendall Brown blew the whistle on Twitter. Thousands of people, such as New York Times bestselling author Steve Silberman (author of a book on autism), were outraged by the news of the subreddit’s existence. The news spread around reddit like wildfire, drawing tens of thousands of upvotes across multiple subreddits.

The only problem? At the heart of it was not a passionate group of anti-abortion Texans looking to make a quick buck hunting people down in service of a new law. No, it was a tiny group of troublemakers from the website rdrama.net, a group formerly at reddit’s /r/Drama who are in love with, well, drama. They hoped only to get a rise out of people for a quick laugh.

And, well, get a rise they did. A tiny troll subreddit that maxed out at 68 members and lasted only six hours before takedown spiraled into national news and across social media. It’s not like the trolling was subtle, either. The one that went most viral was full of choice lines that should have given the game away to anyone who cared to notice. “Would it be unethical to collect a bounty on a perp that I impregnated?” “By the time the sun came up we had become sinners in the eyes of the good lord.” “It feels like a bit of a betrayal of her trust but at the same time it’s her body and her choice and she has made the choice to take life away from the living.” So on. Really, read through it. It’s as subtle as a brick.

The whole piece is worth a read.

What’s most surprising is that the majority of outlets haven’t bothered to issue corrections to the original stories, even though they were obviously duped.

I don’t want The Five to Fall into MDS (Media Derangement Syndrome, a spinoff of Trump Derangement Syndrome), but will continue to report on the major failings of mainstream media—especially when the biggest outlets in the country were fooled by less than 100 bored internet trolls.

[two]

This week, Congress approved aid to Israel for The Iron Dome Project, which should be about as non-controversial as any foreign aid law can possibly be.

The Iron Dome is a system of guided missiles that shoot down rockets fired at Jewish civilians by various terrorist groups.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initially voted against “no” but then changed her vote to “present” and (inexplicably) cried on the House floor over it.

The New York Times initally reported the story in such a manner that made it seem as if AOC was “huddling” to hide from…Rabbis?

Fox News reports:

The bill, which received strong bipartisan support in a 420-9 vote, was dramatic until the very end as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., changed her vote from "no" to "present," a decision that apparently caused her to shed tears on the House floor. Her "Squad" colleagues, like Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., voted against the financial aid toward Israel. 

However, a report published by the Times documenting the turmoil among the Democrats offered a peculiar description of how conflicted the progressives felt when casting their votes. 

"Minutes before the vote closed, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tearfully huddled with her allies before switching her vote to 'present.' The tableau underscored how wrenching the vote was for even outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party, such as influential lobbyists and rabbis," Times congressional correspondent Catie Edmondson initially wrote. 

The NYT “stealth edited” the paragraph (took it out of the story without issuing a correction), but it’s hard to read this as anything except open anti-Semitism, to paint peaceful American religious clerics as so “threatening” they made a Congresswoman cry.

Unfortunately, this absurd reporting lines up with former NY Editor Bari Weiss’s recent Substack publication about how much hatred she got as a NYT editor, who documented how she (and other Jewish employees of The Times) were scapegoated and harassed by their coworkers.

[three]

I’ve avoided covering awards shows like the plague…but what happened this week at the Emmy’s is noteworthy, although not due to any individual show that took home hardware.

For the first time, streaming platforms absolutely trounced broadcast TV.

Deadline reports:

That is how it all turned out, with The Queen’s Gambit and  (holding its coronation in London) both taking 11 wins overall each, a truly impressive haul for Netflix which is no longer snake-bit at the Emmys finally getting some crowning glory that has eluded them.

They are tied now for the all-time Emmy winning hand — ironically with CBS which also notched 44 wins in 1974. It’s ironic since this rout took place tonight on, you guessed it, CBS, which in the sad state of network affairs won nothing from its primetime show this evening. Only NBC, with Saturday Night Live (which counting last weekend’s Creative Arts wins took eight Emmys overall) racking up another win for Variety Sketch Series, kept the Emmy broadcast from being a complete washout for the four broadcast networks who once exclusively ruled this roost — and certainly did the last time the Emmy show was held as a banquet rather than in a 6,000-seat theater. And kudos to Apple TV+ which with Ted Lasso took seven overall wins in a really huge boost for the young streamer. Between Netflix’s Sarandos and Apple’s Lasso it was a big night for anyone named Ted (a Netflix source handed me that line).

As a non-cable-subscriber (except for September/October, for the MLB playoffs), I haven’t trusted my own anecdotal data that tells me broadcast TV is quickly declining…after all, countless households throw on network TV in the evening as background noise for folding the laundry.

Again, I have to go with logic over my experience here. Despite the social media buzz about the award winning comedy Ted Lasso, Apple won’t tell us how many people are watching…which means, not many. And just because I can’t name five shows currently airing on broadcast TV doesn’t mean there aren’t huge audiences flipping on CBS after dinner.

Still, this huge reversal of Emmy awards distribution likely means Hollywood is accepting an inevitability here.

Sooner or later, streaming eats broadcast.

It might take another 15 months or another 15 years.

But if you’re ever going to bet against technology advancing and winning…this isn’t the table I’d recommend throwing your all your chips down at.

(Tongue-in-Cheek) Correction: I had previously reported that I “didn’t know anyone who watched anything” on Apple TV+. My friend Matt promptly texted me that he and his wife watched “multiple shows” on Apple TV+, so I should probably avoid speaking for every person I’ve ever met, ha. And I’m definitely not dogging Ted Lasso in this section…to the contrary, I’m a huge Jason Sudakis fan and hope to check it out at some point.

[four]

One of the most ancient pieces of literature in the world, carved in stone, is heading back to Iraq after a 30 year journey that included stops in London, and then the U.S.

NPR reports:

Known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, it was acquired by the company Hobby Lobby in 2014 for display in the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. U.S. authorities seized it in 2019, saying it was stolen and needed to be returned.

That return is happening Thursday at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. It is part of a group of about 17,000 looted antiquities that the U.S. agreed to return to Iraq. Some of them went back in July.

"By returning these illegally acquired objects, the authorities here in the United States and in Iraq are allowing the Iraqi people to reconnect with a page in their history," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

The tablet measures 5 by 6 inches. It features inscriptions in Sumerian, the language of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization. The text includes a section of the epic of Gilgamesh, a poem believed to have been written at least 4,000 years ago.

During the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam Hussein's regime lost control of regions of Iraq and several regional museums were looted of historic objects, possibly including the tablet.

By 2001, it had made its way to a London antiquities dealer, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Then it was on to antiquities dealers in the U.S. and then back to London where in 2014 the auction house Christie's sold it to Hobby Lobby for $1.67 million.

While this is a true story (and an important cultural happening) it also sounds like a pretty bad Nicholas Cage movie or possibly and Indiana Jones sequel (once the story has been handed down to a new archeologist by Harrison Ford in the upcoming Indiana Jones 5 next July)

[five]

As always, let’s head into the weekend with a pop culture roundup:

  • The blockbuster musical Dear Evan Hansen hits your local multiplex this weekend, and it probably won’t be too hard to find a seat. Broadway star Ben Platt, age 28, reprises his stage role (which he started in 2015, as a 23 year old), which fans have reacted poorly to—as it’s pretty tough to believe Platt as a high school kid. For one of the most anticipated movies of the year, it’s off to a rocky start, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 38% and the LA Times panning the film as “missing the big themes of the stage show. There’s still a chance the massive fanbase will show up in droves, but right now DEH looks like one of the biggest flops of 2021.

  • Also out this weekend, the clearly Oscar-bait biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye, with Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge, The Social Network) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar) playing infamous 1980’s televangelist couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Currently at 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie isn’t likely gathering the opening weekend buzz that was initially projected for an assumed awards season contender.

  • If you’re in the mood for theater popcorn but neither of those appeal to you, consider waiting a week. The Many Saints of Newark, the Sopranos prequel starring James Gandalfini’s son Michael as a younger version of his late father’s iconic character, Tony Soprano, is getting pretty great reviews. Releases October 1st.

  • Tiger King, one of the most popular (and bizzarre) Netflix originals of all time, is getting a sequel documentary season, Tiger King 2.

  • The 1990’s are all the rage in fashion at the moment…and if you’re at least my age (38), you’ll have the opportunity to once again watch the competition show American Gladiators while lounging on the couch in your GAP logo hoodie (those are very much back in, BTW), as the WWE is reimagining the competition show from the Clinton era. If you’re too young to get those references, think the OG version of American Ninja Warrior.

MY PICK: After not watching any TV or movies in about seven weeks, Amanda and I got absolutely sucked into Outer Banks on Netflix. A treasure-hunt-and-maybe-murder mystery set on an affluent island off the coast of North Carolina, the show sticks the landing on what it’s like to grow up blue collar/working class in a society that worships affluence and status.

It’s tough to execute on a mystery TV show, without drawing the man plot out too much while still creating enough space for character development.

Not since Friday Night Lights has a TV show resonated so much with my own experiences of small town life…the former in the portrayal of the tight-knit community, and Outer Banks via capturing how it feels to be seen as less than as a kid/teen because of your financial status.

Even in my current chapter of life, where I’ve had breakfast with a billionaire and where my wife and I scored a deal-of-a-lifetime on a house in a Tesla-and-Benz neighborhood (for comparison, I drive an ‘08 Honda Element) I’ve realized that my net worth could swell to $100 million, and I’d still feel like the other in situations with people with money…even when those people are my own neighbors.

Outer Banks helped me unpack all that, and reminded me of the fierce love and loyalty of the hilljack, moonshine swilling, throw-a-punch-and-have-your-back crew of cousins and childhood best friends that have never let me down.

Blue collar bonds run much deeper than the Blue Blood variety.

MUSIC NEWS: My memories and experiences of 9/11 are wound into two classic albums that released on September 11, 2001—Jay-Z’s The Blueprint and P.O.D.’s Satellite. The latter are out supporting the 20th anniversary of their seminal hard rock/punk/hip-hop fusion double platinum album, which the band just remastered and re-released. Frontman Sonny Sandoval recently appeared on the Black Rifle Coffee Company podcast, which is worth a listen if you’re a fan.

Until the next one,

-sth